Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Want to Be
Senseless Deaths in Our Safe and Sacred Spaces Middle Schoolers Making Sense Out of Nonsense A Student Led Effort to End Gun Violence
Everglades K-8 Center Miami, Fl. Principal Ramon Garrigo
Contributors Student Leaders: - Ethan Silvers, 14 (Student Coordinator) - Angelina Cotnam, 13 (Head of Research, Chief Executive Editor, Creative Director)
FIRST SHOT Preface
The Mass Shooting Uncertainty
The AR-15: The Effects on the
Alyssa Alhadeff, Age 14
Isaiah Shoels, Age 18
Emilie Parker, Age 6
Clementa Pickney, Age 41
- Jasmine Otero, 14 (Art Co-Leader)
Daniel Barden, Age 6
Catherine Dickerson, Age 64
- Barbara Montenegro, 14 (Senior Researcher)
Allison Wyatt, Age 6
Chris Hixon, Age 47
Avielle Richman, Age 7
The After-Effects of the Mass
Dawn Hoschpsrung, Age 46
- Mia Magarinos, 13 (Art Co-Leader)
- Carlos Dieguez, 12 (Senior Researcher) - Camila DiCatarina, 14 (Senior Researcher) - Raisa Carrillo, 14 (Senior Researcher) - Mia Romano, 14 (Outreach Co-Leader)
- Milier Hernandez, 14 (Outreach CoLeader)
- Research Contributors: Barbara Montenegro, 14, Anyeli Santos, 14, Camila DiCatarina, 14, Raisa Carrillo, 14, Cecilia Accetura, 14, Raphael Acosta, 14, Cynthia Ferro, 14, Mia Romano, 13, Lauren Leal, 13, Gala Perez, 13, Angelina Cotnam, 13, Mylee Fayas, 13, Jason Acosta, 13, Carlos Dieguez, 12, Andy Lopez, 12, Lucia Lopez, 12, Isabella Paz, 12, Jesie Suarez, 12, Bernardo Ravelo, 12.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
To Senators Toomey and Casey
Poway Synagogue Shooting
To Congressman Smucker
Burnette Chapel Shooting
To Senators Graham and Scott
Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooting
To Congressman Cunningham
Charleston Church Shooting
To Congressman Doyle
Amish School Shooting
To Congressman Lamalfa
Pittsburgh Synangogue Shooting
To Senators Blumenthal and
Rancho Tehama Shooting
Sandy Hook Elementary School
To Congresswoman Hayes
To Senators Rubio and Scott
To Congressman Deutch
- Art Contributors: Mia Magarinos, 13, Jasmine Otero, 14, Angelina Cotnam, 13, Christopher Brown, 13, Leticia Ravelo, 13, Sarah Perez, 12.
To Senators Bennet and Gardner
Sutherland Springs Shooting
To Congresswoman Degette
Virginia Tech Shooting
To Senators Cruz and Cornyn
- Outreach Contributors: Mia Romano, 13, Milier Hernandez, 14, Nicole Duran, 14, Nicole Rodriguez, 13.
To Senators Harris and Feinsten
To Congressman Cuellar
To Congressman Peters
To Senators Kaine and Warner
To Senators Alexander and Blackburn
To Congressman Griffith
To Congressman Cooper
To Senators Baldwin and Johnson
To Congressman Steil
Statistics Contributors: Sarah Ortiz, 13, Isabella Villar, 13, Jaliya Pendergast, 13. - Teacher Advisors: Kelsey Major, Program Creator and Facilitator, Michele Zakis, Faculty and Resarch Advisor, Olga Carballo, Social and Emotional Advisor, Jeffrey David, Art Advisor, Rita Lugo, Counselor, Patricia Delgado, Strategic Support.
Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Want to Be
The highest honor in education occurs when a teacher creates an educational platform that students enthusiastically respond to and are irrevocably engaged in. The First Shot project was designed to give middle school students an impactful voice in the mass shooting debate. Along the way, students experience authentic civic engagement as they interact with the democracy in which they live. The educational platform upon which this project was built is intentionally generic in nature. Therefore, the infrastructure of the First Shot project can be used to address any social issue that currently plagues our democracy. This project, which was born out of the horrific events that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, implicitly directs students to points of access in their democracy that are often hidden in plain view. For a teacher, the goal then is to resist the temptation of opening the doors for the students but to strategically provide them with the requisite support so that they can become effective door openers themselves; this is a core facet of student empowerment. It is empowering when 12 and 13 year olds contact Congressional offices around the country and the legislative aides initially believe that they are speaking with college students. Students are empowered when they are trusted to unpack complex phenomena like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and then apply their findings to the impact and to the uncertainty of mass shootings. Student empowerment occurs when students can effortlessly teach teachers how to implement the project that they have mastered. It is empowering when students realize that the work of their hands and minds has impacted a nation, as they watch donations pour in from coast to coast. Students from varying political perspectives are empowered when they can coalesce around the fundamental idea that every human life is precious and valuable. A 13-year-old is empowered when he is chosen to sit on a gun violence panel with experts and elected officials. Lastly, it is empowering to both teacher and student when a teacherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exemplar is replaced by a student produced work that is exceedingly excellent. This is the essence of the First Shot project- student empowerment. Although a teacher conceptualized and facilitated this project, giants have executed it to perfection. I believe that across The United States of America there are giants silently sitting in all of our classrooms.These giants are begging to be heard and listened to because they have valuable and unique solutions to many of our enduring problems. If we are going to survive as a society, we must listen more carefully to the giants sitting in our midst. MR. KELSEY MAJOR
Program Creator, Facilitator, Math Teacher, Speech and Debate Teacher.
“Hopeless” PAGE 4
We do what we know. Crowd together like rats. That’s all we are to him anyway, right? It’s silent, Silent in a way that suffocates. And it’s calm, Chilling us to the bone because we know how this ends. In a corner, a light shines with a final goodbye. We don’t say anything. It won’t matter anyway. We hear him, And he barrels through the hallway, All blazes and fire and for a moment, We swear this is what hell feels like. Time stops. But not for long. The glass shatters like the quiet that surrounded us just moments ago. We see him, All we see is him.
And now we’re running, Running, running, running. Panic and adrenaline and the want, The need to survive. Why can’t we just survive? Running, running, running. And then we’re not. It’s red, red like the anger that fueled him. Red like the code we followed, Red like the code that just didn’t work. It’s everywhere, crawling through the cracks in the floor, Staining everything in its way. It’s us, desperately clinging to the hope that maybe, Just maybe, They’ll be here in time. But they’re not, They never are. There’s no hope for us now.
- Angelina Cotnam, 13
The poem began after hearing another poetic piece about the same topic. However, while the first piece dealt with the fear mass shootings bring, this piece was designed to focus on the hopelessness many victims describe feeling throughout the event.
Don’t Want to Be
CAMILA DICATARINA, 14
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that it is impossible to predict where certain
particles will exactly be at any given time, even if the initial conditions and variables are given.
For us as human beings, uncertainty is a part of our daily lives. It is something we live
with every day, whether we think or worry about it or not, with some uncertainties greater than others. In the United States, the desire to predict, and therefore prevent, acts of violence, such as mass shootings, is fervent. But mass shootings, while they are still a clear problem that happen far too frequently in our country, are relatively rare, and the variables at play when it comes to a potential mass shooter are not fixed. We ask the question, then, is it possible for us to predict mass shootings?
To answer that question, we must first find the variables that contribute in impacting
a mass shooter. A common one discussed by many is the mental health of a person. There have been studies that have tried to find a connection between mental illness and gun violence, specifically mass shootings. However, there is little evidence of such a connection. In a research article called “Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms” written by Jonathan M. Metzl and Kenneth T. MacLeish, statistics were taken by databases that record the number of gun homicides and it was found that out of the 120,000 deaths caused by guns between 2001 to 2010, fewer than 5% of the perpetrators had suffered from and been diagnosed with mental illness. For mass shooters, few have had been diagnosed with mental illness as well, with only 20-25% having been previously diagnosed. Deaths caused by guns from people suffering from mental illness are mostly suicides, not homicides.
However, there are a few common trends among many mass shooters, some of which
are having experienced past trauma such as bullying, neglect, abuse at home, and early exposure to violence during their childhood. Almost every mass shooter had also reached a point of crisis in their lives a few weeks or months prior to carrying out their plan. The loss position in the workforce are some examples of crises mass shooters experienced. Another common trait was a fascination with mass shootings themselves, and the studying of past shooters actions. These people find justification in the actions of past shooters and find the notoriety gained after a shooting appealing. Finally, all mass shooters had access to the resources needed in order to go through with their plans. The moment a person reaches the point where they decide whatever their motive and reasoning is justifies the killing of innocent people, all that is left for them is the means to do it.
We cannot predict what any person will do at any given time, and we cannot know
everything about every single person all the time. But we can watch out for signs that somebody is troubled and is in need of help. We can use preventative measures, such as increasing access to and improving mental health treatment, reducing the amount of notoriety a shooter gains after a shooting, helping those going through a crisis, and placing stricter regulations and restrictions about who can own guns to hopefully reduce such tragedies from occurring so frequently. Although the uncertainty of mass shootings is great, we cannot sit idly by as if there is nothing we can do to prevent them, because it is a certain fact that innocent people are losing their lives senselessly.
of someone close, facing rejection in a relationship, and an extreme change in a person’s
random locations of the electrons in an atom.
The Mass Shooting Uncertainty Principle
It explains that there are some things in the universe that we are unable to predict, such as the
Life This is Emilie Parker. She was 6 years old when she passed away in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Emilie was a loving daughter to her mother and father, Robbie & Alissa Parker, and a great sister to Madeline & Samantha Parker. As a toddler, Emilie lived in Washington, before moving to Newtown, Connecticut. After her passing, her family decided to move back to Washington. The kind-hearted girl who loved going to the beach, playing with her sisters, and was always a bubble of joy, will always be remembered by her family, friends, and teachers.
Amendment The second amendment gives citizens of the United States the right to carry arms with a license. I believe that this amendment is getting out of control. We need red flag laws. We NEED the amendment to be more strict. We need to be safe and make sure that guns are not landing in the wrong hands. Statistic Another senseless death.
Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Want to Be
Daniel Barden was a young boy, age 6, who was murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. He was killed with a Bushmaster XM15E2S rifle. Daniel was a loving brother to two siblings, and a caring son to his mother and father. His life was taken too soon, may he rest in peace. Statistic Another senseless death.
Supposedly, the 2nd amendment is meant to keep us safe, and to give us guns to protect ourselves. But now, in this current time, it feels like the 2nd amendment makes our life more unsafe. Each day, more and more people are using guns to kill us. Unfortunately, Daniel Barden was a victim of gun violence. We go to school afraid of people using guns, entering school grounds, and causing harm to our friends, and our educators.
Allison Wyatt was only six years old when she was killed. She was one of the twenty-six victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. She was known as a kindhearted little girl who formed special bonds with almost everyone she met. She wanted to be an artist; her drawings would be taped to the walls as if the house was her own art studio. Allison loved to garden with her grandmother and always liked being outside in the summer. She had her whole life ahead of her, one that was brutally taken away too soon.
Amendment Mass shootings are out of control. They can be reduced by making background checks necessary for everyone who purchases a gun. If we allowed “red flag laws”, also known as “extreme-risk protection orders”, or gun violence restraining orders to be passed, it would be easier to identify dangerous individuals and take steps to temporarily disarm them before they can harm themselves or anyone else. We can petition the permanent removal of firearms from a person who may have a serious mental illness. We need change! Statistic Another senseless death.
Don’t Want to Be
AVIELLE RICHMAN PAGE 9
Avielle Rose Richman was born in San Diego, California on October 17th, 2006 into a family of storytellers. With a spitfire personality and a love of laughter, Avielle was rarely without a giant grin and was often found walking barefoot. Like her parents, she loved stories and demanded them as she was falling asleep, taking a bath, riding in the car, and on every walk she took.
Amendment I think that there should be a law or an amendment that authorizes the government to use background checks to prevent the mentally ill from owning guns, as they are not equipped to handle them. If I had to amend the Second Amendment it would go like this: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The people have the right to bear arms, but they must pass an obligatory process of investigation of their records, as well as being a legal citizen of the U.S for a time period longer than a year.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Statistic Another senseless death.
FIRST SHOT Amendment
My classmates and I have been researching the 2nd amendment for months. The 2nd Amendment states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” People over the years have found loopholes in the 2nd amendment which is one of the reasons why we have so many mass shootings. If I was given a chance to amend the 2nd amendment I would enforce and add more details so that way people who want to cause harm won’t do as much damage as they are now doing.
Life Her name was Dawn Hochsprung and she was killed while lunging at the gunman to try and stop his rampage on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where she was the principal.
Statistic Another senseless death.
DAWN HOCHSPRUNG Don’t Want to Be
In the past few years, mass shootings have become increasingly normalized in today’s
media. It is often that you hear a brief mention of a new mass shooting, yet for as common as they have tragically become, the actual ramifications these tragedies have to the victims is not explored often enough. The reality is that the use of the AR-15 in these shootings (which is more often than not, due to the versatility of the weapon) increases the death count considerably in comparison to other mass shootings where another gun is used.
The AR-15 began its rise as one of the more popular guns of choice in the Vietnam War,
around which was superior. The weapon is classified as a high velocity weapon, fitting the prerequisites which, according to Beyer, include the weapon having a muzzle speed of over 2,500 feet per second. It is also remarkably lightweight, with the shooter being able to carry up to 440 more rounds than an individual carrying an M-14 without increasing the overall weight of the combat equipment. This makes the handling of the weapon fast and efficient, perfect for use in war, especially compared to the M-16, which was prone to jamming mid-shot. This debate brought the weapon further into the public eye, particularly when the war ended.
After the war, the weapon was mass produced and sold to the public, with many US
citizens purchasing the gun with ease. The problem of this accessibility begins with the effects the AR-15 can have on one’s body. According to Heather Sher, a radiologist who oversaw treating the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, the AR-15 had caused so much damage that “the organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively.” (Sic. The Atlantic). This she compares to the damage done by a handgun which “… appears as a linear, thin, gray bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.” This shows a distinct difference in the appearance of the gunshot wound, but reading further into the article, you can find that the damage is even more severe than just the physical appearance. AR-15 bullets are small and light, making them faster and therefore deadlier, as the speed of the bullet directly correlates to how much damage it will cause. Because of how light the bullet is, it does not simply rip through organs and tissue, it causes a rippling effect throughout the body, not unlike the one that appears where you to drop a rock in a pond. This
ripple will kill any tissue it comes into contact with, rendering any medical treatment useless. This effect is so deadly that the surgeons operating on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas kids would open them up, see the damage, and close them back up. The damage this weapon creates means almost certain death for anyone unfortunate enough to be shot.
The AR-15 is without a doubt, one of the most dangerous guns the public has access to
now. It has caused hundreds of innocent deaths, all of them destroying families with grief. And these shootings show no sign of stopping. A solution must be brought up to end these senseless deaths, if not for the safety of the future children that will grow up in this country fearing going to school in case their lives are cut short, then for the thousands of families ripped apart because of all the senseless death and mayhem that seems to be passing under the radar. The only way to conjure a solution now is to wake up and face the unfortunate truth that brilliant lives have been, and continue, to be lost each and every day due to the people’s ignorance. Wake up, and remind the people in power that we will not continue to let them push aside these deaths.
ANGELINA COTNAM, 13
The AR-15: The Effects on the Body
being the predecessor to the militarized version of the weapon, the M-16, much debate sparked
Alyssa Alhadeff was a 14-year old student and a victim of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting. She was a sweet girl and a talented soccer player, who had played since she was 3 years old and was always close to her teammates. Her family and friends remember her as being an intelligent, passionate and kind person, always being full of life and energy. She will forever be remembered and missed by her loved ones, and may she rest in peace.
Amendment The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution gives and protects US citizensâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; right to bear arms. This is an important right that should be defended, because citizens need a way to defend themselves from a government that could become tyrannical. However, I do not think it is right for ordinary citizens to be able to purchase and own weapons capable of killing masses of human beings in such a short amount of time. Statistic Another senseless death.
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Amendment I think that the Second Amendment needs to be stronger, like implementing background checks before selling any weapons to anybody. They could also start asking for past medical history regarding mental illnesses. Statistic
Life Born August 4, 1980, he was 18 years old when he lost his life. Isaiah Shoels wanted to be a comedian and dreamed of becoming a music executive. After graduating he wanted to attend an arts college. Friends nicknamed him â&#x20AC;&#x153;Bushwickâ&#x20AC;?. Born with a heart defect, his parents said he was a fighter who overcame his disability and went on to play football and wrestle. He had played cornerback the previous year before being brutally murdered in the Columbine shooting.
Another senseless death.
On June 17, 2015, a 21-year old white supremacist attended a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. At around 9 pm., the man grabbed a Glock 41 .45-caliber handgun from his bag and shot and murdered nine churchgoers. Before the tragedy occurred, while they were at Bible study, it was said that the shooter had sat next to and spoke with Clementa Pinckney, a member of the South Carolina Senate and the pastor of the church. Clementa Pinckney was a 41-year old man and he had 2 children, Eliana and Malana Pinckney. He was remembered as a “remarkable human being” by Rep. Mark Sanford. Clementa was born on July 30, 1973, in Beaufort, South Carolina, and followed in the footsteps of many family members in living a life of faith and becoming a pastor. As a member of the Senate, he focused on policy making that supported civil rights activism, gun violence and police reform. Statistic
Another senseless death.
The Second Amendment of the United States secures the right of citizens to be able to purchase and keep firearms for their defense against a tyrannical and oppressive government and for defense in their domestic lives. While I believe this is an important right to remain secured for the defense of citizens, I do not believe that citizens should be able to purchase weapons that are capable of murdering masses of people in as few as 30 seconds. I firmly believe that the second amendment of the US Constitution should be amended to restrict the type of weapons that can be purchased. Additionally, a person’s mental state must be determined prior to the purchase of a firearm. Statistic
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Amendment Many of the survivors of these mass shootings suffer from depression and other mental illnesses like PTSD. Sometimes these people even commit suicide. This is why there must be stronger gun laws so everyone has the opportunity to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Statistic Another senseless death.
On September 24, 2017 Catherine Dickerson was standing in the parking lot of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ at the end of Sunday morning’s services, casually talking to the church minister’s wife and another woman when she heard a popping sound behind her. “There was a bang and then a pop, pop that wasn’t a firecracker, that was something I had never heard before,” Dickerson said at the trial of the gunman. Dickerson says she heard another gunshot and saw a masked man. She thought it was a Halloween joke until she saw a gun. Then she thought about putting a nearby car in reverse and running him over but didn’t in fear of hurting others. Dickerson ran for her life inside the church, but soon felt the shooting pain that was a bullet entering her body. Though she survived, she now must live a life with this traumatic experience.
Chris Hixon, 49, was an athletic director and wrestling coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was dedicated to his students and he helped to coach athletic teams even when he wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t eligible for pay. He was shot and killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting while trying to protect students.
Amendment My opinion on the 2nd Amendment is that there should be more restrictions and regulations on the people selling and buying guns. I believe there should be stricter background checks; and a person with any type of mental illness should not be allowed to bear arms. Any person with mental illness can cause these types of catastrophes while in possession of a gun. We should have much stricter gun laws than the ones we have now. Statistic Another senseless death.
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The After-Effects of the Mass Shooting Phenomenon There were 417 mass shootings in 2019 in the United States. According to data from the
nonprofit “Gun Violence Archive” (GVA), 4,545 lives taken in just the first months of 2020 from gun violence. There are parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends all missing someone who should still be here. Mass shootings are not becoming any less common. But the devastation of a person losing their right to life is not the only result of these mass shootings.
Mass shootings leave a permanent scar on the victims’ families and friends, making it hard
for them to continue with their lives, especially those who were present during the shooting and managed to survive. The National Center for PTSD has estimated that “28 percent of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder and about a third develop acute stress disorder. 80% of people with PTSD later develop and experience depression.”
There have been multiple cases of mass shooting survivors dealing with survivor’s guilt.
According to Medical-NewsToday, “Survivors may question why they escaped death while others lost their lives. They may also wonder whether there was something that they could have done to Shooting” which occurred in Orlando, Florida. One of the survivors, Patience Carter, said the following in a poem she wrote,“The guilt of being grateful to be alive is heavy... It may color your actions, what you might do moving forward for yourself because you’re sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t deserve to be alive’’’. Survivors guilt has even led to suicide. Sydney Aiello had been close friends with one of the Parkland Shooting victims, Meadow Pollack. Sydney unfortunately took her life. Another survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy, whose name was not released, also passed away from an apparent suicide. And finally, a father named Jeremy Richman who lost his daughter Avielle, a first grader, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in Connecticut. He was found dead, the suspected cause being suicide.
Although mass shootings are terrible tragedies, they’ve inspired people to speak up. Survivors
of mass shootings and even parents of the victims have converted themselves into activists. Both Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg are survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting. They’re part of the March for Our Lives student-led organization which supports the legislation to prevent gun violence in the United States. March for Our Lives was, “created by survivors, so you don’t have to be one.” The reason it’s important that we focus on the survivors of mass shootings and the families directly affected is because they’re the only ones left. They’re the ones who know the reality of mass shootings. They experienced the unbelievable suffering that many will never understand. They are vehement about this topic and refuse to let this pain continue. “Everybody needs to understand how we feel and what we went through, because if they don’t, they’re not going to be able to understand why we’re fighting for what we’re fighting for.” -Emma Gonzalez, a senior from Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
RAISA CARRILLO, 14
prevent the traumatic event or preserve life.” In 2016, there was what is known as the “Pulse Nightclub
These are sets of data collected through the researching of mass shootings. All data shown on these two pages applies to the research done in the magazine. We do not claim that this applies to all mass shootings, just the ones shown throughout.
Likelihood of a man dying in an educational setting in our sample: 44/93 = 47.3% Likelihood of a woman dying in an educational setting in our sample: 49/93 = 52.6% Likelihood of a man dying in a religious setting in our sample: 25/59 = 42.3% Likelihood of a woman dying in a religious setting in our sample: 34/59 = 57.6% Likelihood of a man dying in a Christian religious setting in our sample: 12/36 = 33.3% Likelihood of a woman dying in a Christian religious setting in our sample: 24/36 = 66.7%% **This does not correlate with Pewâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s percentages of Christians that are men and women.
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Kill to Shot ratio at Charleston Church: 9/9 = 1 or 100% Kill to Shot ratio at Virginia Tech: 32/55 = .581 or 58.1% ** In both shootings a 9 mm weapon with hollow point bullets was used. Why did Charleston have a higher kill to shot ratio?
To feel the effects of a shooting, you do not need firsthand experience. Not only do survivors and victims suffer, families and friends are also greatly affected. After the Parkland shooting in February of 2018, two survivors committed suicide in the span of one week. This can also occur months after the shooting. For example, 8 months after the shooting at Virginia Tech, a man committed suicide, and his family said that it was linked to his experience in the shooting. As previously stated, family and friends are also greatly affected. The mother of a student who had been left paralyzed, committed suicide. The father of a little girl killed during the shooting at Sandy Hook, committed suicide shortly after. Survivors experience PTSD and intense depression. It is also possible for them to experience something referred to as Survivors Guilt. This leads survivors to question why they are alive but the rest of the victims aren’t. They have thoughts like, “Why was I allowed to live, but my colleague was not?”. After the anniversary of the event, there is a higher risk of suicide, and it can last for weeks and months at a time. Returning to the area of the shooting can be traumatic, trigger PTSD, or be impossible to do. It is said that even after counseling and therapy, the effects never go away. The loss of a child or friend has a permanent affect. The thoughts, feelings and emotions of a victim never truly go away. There is always a feeling of being unsafe or guilt involved in the aftermath of shootings. A shooting, whether experienced firsthand or not has a permanent mark on everyone, in an emotional physical and mental
SARAH ORTIZ, 13
POWAY SYNAGOGUE California’s 52nd Congressional District
16934 Chabad Way, Poway, CA 92064 Senators Dianne Feinsten and Kamala Harris Congressman Scott H. Peters April 27, 2019 The gun used was an AR-15 style rifle. This weapon is legal in California, and it’s legal in Poway.
The Victims Dead: Lori Kaye (60). Injured: Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein (57), Almog Peretz (34), Noya Dahan (8). First shot Lori Gilbert-Kaye was a 60-year-old mother, “She had such little time to rest; she was always doing good, making people happy, that’s who she was,” says Teresa Lampert. “Nobody could keep up with her.” She personified the meaning of a “true woman of valor,” says Chabad of Poway’s founding director, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein,—who, together with two others, including an 8-year-old girl, was injured. She was “a great philanthropist, a kindhearted person, always there for others.” Shooter Statistics The shooter was a 19-year-old white American male. He had admitted to having a mental illness and the FBI was working with local authorities to review a “manifesto” circulating online that may have been posted by him. President Response President Trump said, “Thoughts and prayers to all of those affected by the shooting at the Synagogue in Poway, California. God bless you all. Suspect apprehended. Law enforcement did an outstanding job. Thank you!”. He has also said “Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it.” He hasn’t completely taken care of the hate in this country.
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BURNETTE CHAPEL Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District 3890 Pin Hook Rd, Antioch, TN 37013 Senators Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn Congressman Jim Cooper September 24, 2017 The gun used was a 9 mm handgun. This weapon is legal in all the states and Tennessee has no law regulating .40-caliber firearms.
First shot The first shot victim was Melanie Crow Smith. She lived in Smyrna and left behind her husband and two children. She was known for loving kids and she was caring and thoughtful. Shooter Statistics The shooter was a 27-year-old, Sudanese male. He was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and PTSD. Before the mass shooting he woke up feeling suicidal. Congressman Response Congressman Jim Cooper said we should restrict “widespread civilian access to militarygrade assault weapons.” He also said “The President is generally on the right track. We need background checks and we need to keep weapons of war off our streets and out of our schools and workplaces. Armor-piercing bullets and large-capacity magazines are also deeply troubling..” Congressman Chuck Fleischmann said “I strongly oppose any legislation that threatens the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans and Americans.” . He also said, ‘’I have never wavered in my strong support of protecting our Second Amendment rights, and I voted for the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.’’
The Victims Dead: Melanie Crow Smith (39). Injured: Linda Bush (68), Donald William (83), Marlene Jenkins (84), David Joseph Spann (66), Peggy Spann (65), Catherine Dickerson (64), Robert “Caleb” Engle (22).
WISCONSIN SIKH TEMPLE Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District
7512 S Howell Ave, Oak Creek, WI 53154 Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson Congressman Bryan Steil August 5, 2012
The gun used was a semiautomatic handgun and when its bullets enter a human body, they don’t just pierce tissue, they shatter bones and dislocate limbs. This particular handgun is not legal in Wisconsin. The Victims Sita Singh (41), Ranjit Singh (49), Satwant Singh Kaleka (65), Prakash Singh (39), Parajimit Kaur (41), Suveg Singh (84). First shot Authorities released an audio recording of the incident, during which the first responding officer, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, was first shot by the gunman. Shooter Statistics The shooter was 40 years old, white and male. He did not have any mental issues and no signs of undiagnosed illnesses. He had broken up with his girlfriend prior to the mass shooting, which means he was likely angry. Congressmen Response Tammy Baldwin introduced remembering the one-year anniversary of the tragic violence at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek. Ron Johnson commented on the shooting by saying, “The security of America and the safety of the American people is a top priority. As we remember those who were killed and closely impacted, I also ask that we remember and honor the two officers of the Oak Creek Police Department who acted bravely in the aftermath of the shooting, Lt. Brian Murphy and Officer Sevan Lenda. I am incredibly grateful for their courage that day, as well as their service and dedication to the people of Wisconsin.”
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CHARLESTON CHURCH South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District 110 Calhoun St, Charleston, SC 29401
Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott Congressman Joe Cunningham June 17, 2015
The Victims Dead: Rev.Clementa Pickney (41), Cynthia Hurd (54), Tywanza Sanders (26), Sharonda Singleton (45), Rev.DePayne Middleton-Doctor (49), Rev.Daniel Simmons (74), Susan Jackson (87), Ethel Lance (70), Myra Thompson (59). First shot Tywanza Sanders was the first person shot at the Charleston Church massacre. He was a barber with hopes of owning his own barber shop. He was reportedly a member of the Association of Black Accountants and the National Black MBA Association and was in the process of publishing a poetry book. Shooter Statistics The shooter was a white 22 year old male. He had a felony drug arrest and is currently charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime that included multiple fatalities. Later on, he confessed that he shot all of the people because he wanted to start a race war. Congressman Response Senator Lindsey Graham said, ‘’What woke us up was the way the families behaved... when they channeled their grief into something constructive, they reminded us of what humanity is all about.” He proposed legislation to encourage more states to adopt “red flag” legislation. Senator Tim Scoot said “As Orlando mourns and Charleston remembers… we can show how love overcomes hate.” He joined a group of Senate Republicans in introducing the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts Act, and legislation containing provisions to reduce mass violence and make communities safer.
The gun used was a Glock pistol. It uses .45 caliber ammunition, and it can penetrate 12 to 18 inches of skin. The Glock pistol is legal in all states.
WEST NICKEL MINES Pennsylvaniaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 11th Congressional District
Bart Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Senators Robert Casey Jr. and Patrick Toomey Congressman Lloyd Smucker October 2, 2006
The perpetrator was armed with three guns, which were the Springfield XD 9mm handgun, a Browning BPS 12 gauge pumpaction shotgun, and a Ruger M77 .30-06 bolt action rifle. These guns are relatively lethal when shot. The Springfield XD 9mm handgun was the one used in the shooting and is illegal in California. The Victims Dead: Naomi Rose Ebersol (7), Marian Stoltzfus Fisher (13), Anna Mae Stoltzfus (12), Lena Zook Miller (8), Mary Liz Miller (7) Injured: Rosanna King (6), Rachel Ann Stoltzfus (8), Barbie Fisher (11), Sarah Ann Stoltzfus (12), Esther King (13). First shot When the shooter arrived at the small schoolhouse, he allowed the male students and 4 women, one pregnant and the other three with infants, to leave while he made the rest of the schoolgirls line up against the chalkboard. Some time after 11 am, after police officers did not comply with his demands to leave, he threatened to begin shooting at the girls. Marian Fischer, the oldest of the victims, asked the perpetrator to shoot her first in order to save the younger girls. She was an 8th grader attending the school, and was remembered as having a remarkably strong faith. Her younger sister, Barbie Fischer, asked to be shot second after her sister. She survived, and after being shot in the hip and shoulder she still asked to see her sister after she was given the news that she had passed. Shooter Statistics The shooter was a 32-year-old white male born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was reported that he had no history of any mental illnesses and no criminal record. When his wife arrived home at about 11 am, she found 4 suicide notes, one for her and one for each of their three children, in which he spoke about how he had allegedly molested two female family members when they were three to five years old about 20 years ago. Although he felt guilty over it, he wrote how he dreamt of doing it again, as well as how he had a grudge against God for the loss of his infant daughter who had died a few minutes after birth. He shot himself shortly after the shooting. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Want to Be
Senator Robert Casey Jr. sponsored the Disarm Hate Act. The Disarm Hate Act would prohibit, according to casey.senate.gov, “access to firearms by those convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes. Anyone who has proven they will commit violent crimes based on bias should not have access to guns.” Senator Casey is in support of background checks and even cosponsored the Background Check Expansion Act. He also cosponsored the Assault Weapons Ban. Senator Casey said the following, “America is a great nation and I refuse to believe there’s nothing we can do to reduce the likelihood of mass shootings. Congress should have votes on measures to reduce gun violence, including universal background checks, a ban on military-style weapons and a prohibition of those on the terror watchlist from purchasing firearms. These measures can reduce the likelihood of a mass shooting and the members of Congress who set the agenda on the floors of the House and Senate should act.”
Senator Patrick Toomey is a supporter of the Second Amendment. He voted yes on the following; changing the waiting period for receiving a purchased weapon from three days to one day, and prohibiting the suing of gun makers and sellers of others misusing guns. Senator Toomey was rated an A by the NRA showing that he is a strong supporter of gun rights. He also hopes to revive and expand background checks. Senator Toomey said, “This is a common sense and very, very broadly supported measure that fully respects the right of law abiding citizens and respect the rights of the Second Amendment.” Congressman Lloyd Smucker strongly supports the prevention of gun violence in the United States. The Mass Violence Prevention Act, introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), provides new resources to law enforcement as well as more resources for prosecuting criminals for firearm-related crimes. Congressman Smucker urged his colleagues to support this bill. According to votesmart.org, “In the 115th Congress, Smucker supported several bills to help prevent mass violence, including a bill to fix the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and the STOP School Violence Act, which expands grant programs to fund violence prevention training and local law enforcement coordination.”
PITTSBURGH SYNAGOGUE Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District
5898 Wilkins Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 Senators Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey Congressman Michael F. Doyle October 27, 2018
The guns used were the AR-15 Assault Rifle and three Glock handguns. The ammunition used in the AR-15 can cause severe internal damage. This weapon is legal in all of the states.
The Victims Dead: Irving Younger (69), Melvin Wax (88), Rose Mallinger (97), Bernice Simon (84), Sylvan Simon (86), Joyce Fienberg (75), Richard Gottfried (65), Daniel Stein (71), Brothers Cecil (59) and David Rosenthal (54), Jerry Rabbinovitz (66). Injured: Andrea Wedner (61), Officer Daniel Mead (18+), Officer Anthony Burke (27), Officer Timothy Matson (18+), Officer Michael Smigda (39), Daniel Leger (70). First shot Rose Mallinger was 97 when she was murdered in The Tree of Life Synagogue Mass Shooting. She once served as the school secretary at the synagogue and for the past 60 years she greeted people at the door as they entered. Friends said that she kept her wit and intelligence up to the very last minute of her life. The synagogue was the center of Ruth’s social and religious life. Shooter Statistics The shooter was a 46-year-old white male. He was suicidal and had been charged with multiple hate crimes before. Before the mass shooting he had tweeted pictures of his guns. Congressman’s Respone Congressman Mike Doyle said, ‘’We know at this point, that the shooter was motivated by hate and anti-Semitism. We’ve got to find a way to prevent such hate from festering in our society. While that is a tall order, there are steps Congress can and should take to reduce gun violence and make this hate less deadly. Today is a time for mourning and praying as a city and community, and soon we will need to come together to heal and ensure this doesn’t happen again.”He also introduced a resolution to condemn the October 27 anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue building in Pittsburgh and to honor the memory of the victims of the attack. Don’t Want to Be
Senator Bob Casey said, “Today, our Commonwealth and country stand in solidarity with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. We mourn the loss of eleven lives at Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill and pray for their families. This was an evil act of hate and the perpetrator must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Senator Casey sponsored the Disarm Hate Act, which would prohibit access to firearms from those convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes. Anyone who has proven they will commit violent crimes based on bias should not have access to guns. Senator Pat Toomey, “Synagogues and other places of worship are safe havens where communities come together to celebrate, pray, and reflect. What happened today at the Tree of Life Synagogue was a cowardly act of violence fueled by hate and anti-Semitism. My prayers are with the victims, their families and friends, the members of the Tree of Life Synagogue, and the city of Pittsburgh. I greatly appreciate the actions of the first responders who tended to the wounded and apprehended the shooter.”
RANCHO TEHAMA California’s 1st Congressional District
Rancho Tehama Reserve, Tehama County, California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein Congressman Doug LaMalfa November 13-14, 2017
The perpetrator was armed with two homemade rifles similar to the AR-15, and two handguns registered to another person. It is illegal to make military-style weapons at home. AR-15’s can disintegrate three inches of leg bone. It is strong enough to rip through flesh and burst an artery. A handgun can poke a hole in an organ and cause tissue disruption. The Victims Dead: Danny Lee Elliot (38), Diana Lee Steele, (68), Joseph Edward McHugh III (56), Barbara Anne Glisan (38), Michelle McFadyen (55). Injured: Tiffany Nai Phommathep (31), JJ (10), James Wood I (43), Jake (6), Jessie Allen Sanders (39), Francisco Gudino Cardenas (31), Niko (2), Troy Lee McFadyen (47), Alejandro Hernandez (6). First shot Diana Lee Steele was a victim of the Rancho Tehama Reserve shooting. She was a caring LVS nurse and a wonderful grandmother. Her son, Danny Elliot, also died during the shooting. Danny and Diana lived together across the street from a victim who survived. The surviving victim’s name is Tiffany Nai Phommathep. Her husband, Johnny Phommathep Sr, described Danny as a caring guy. “He was a good guy,” he said. Diana and Danny were two of the first victims. The gunman’s wife, Barbara Ann Glisan, had been murdered by the gunman the day before. Her body was discovered under the floorboards of their mobile trailer home. Shooter Statistics The shooter was a 44 year old white male. As a teenager, his family was worried about his mental health. They tried to get him help, but he would become angered. In an interview, his older sister said that he began to have extreme hallucinations and delusions. Engaging in conversation with him was difficult because she did not know “...what was real and what was fabricated and what was in his mind,” According to his family, his mental health spun around October 2016. They urged him to seek help in mental health facilities, but he refused, stating that “the government would get his numbers”. The gunman showed multiple signs of being mentally ill. Ten months prior to the shooting, he stabbed two people. Neighbours would complain about the violent screaming and sounds of gunshots that came from his home. Don’t Want to Be
On January 22, 2013, Senator Dianne Feinstein co-sponsored the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, that would ban large-capacity ammunition. On April 17, 2013, she voted YES on banning high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets. Senator Feinstein created the Gun-Free School Act, that required each state to expel any student who had ever brought a weapon to school. The senator has also challenged the NRA in legislation that would prohibit the manufacturing and ownership of military-style assault weapons. In response to the shooting, the senator sent out a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of yesterday’s horrific shooting in Rancho Tehama Reserve. We’re all especially thankful to the educators who acted quickly to lock down the elementary school; they surely saved children’s lives … It’s been discovered today that the shooter also killed his wife, yet another example of domestic violence preceding a deadly mass shooting. We need to get serious about addressing gun violence and ensure our communities, homes, schools and churches are safe.” Congressman Doug LaMalfa wrote the following statement on his campaign website in 2012: “I am an ardent defender of our Second Amendment rights. I believe firmly in the individual right to keep and bear arms. I will fight any attempt to water down or weaken our rights, while pushing to ensure our rights to hunt and defend ourselves are expanded. I am proud to have earned an A rating and the endorsements of the NRA and Gun Owners of America.” On August 30, 2012, he opposed restrictions on gun purchases. On January 6, 2009, he co-sponsored a bill that would establish a state standard for carrying concealed firearms. In response to the shooting, the congressman stated schools should be allowed to arm their staff to protect their students. “I’ve spoken to teachers around Northern California who wish to have that option .... We’ve got to be more creative as far as campus safety and security .... We live in perilous times and we need these options to keep these campuses safe.’’
Senator Kamala Harris stated in a CNN Town Hall debate on April 22, 2019, “I will require that anyone who sells more than five guns a year [be] required to do background checks. I will require that for any gun dealer that breaks the law, the ATF take their license.” In the CNN SOTU 2019 interview of presidential hopefuls on May 12, 2019, the senator also stated “90% of guns associated with crime have been sold by 5% of the gun dealers. We need to take their licenses away.” In an Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate on October 15, 2019, she stated “I will take executive action and put in place a comprehensive background check requirement and ban the importation of assault weapons into our country, because it is time to act.” In response to the shooting, she tweeted the following: “Heartbroken by the news of a shooting at an elementary school in Rancho Tehama. Grateful to the officers and first responders on the scene. I am closely monitoring the situation.”
SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District
12 Dickenson Dr, Sandy Hook, CT 06482
Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal Congresswoman Jahana Hayes December 14, 2012
The guns that were used included an Izhmash Saiga 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun, a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle, Glock 20 10mm semi automatic handgun, and Sig Sauer P226 9mm semiautomatic handgun. The ammunition included 20 12-gauge shotgun shells 301 rounds of .233-caliber ammunition, 116 rounds of .9mm ammunition, 90 rounds of 10mm ammunition, which can cause severe damage. The weapons were all purchased legally. The Victims Dead: Charlotte Bacon (6), Daniel Barden (7), Rachel D’Avino (29), Olivia Engel (6), Josephine Gay (7), Dylan Hockley (6), Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung (47), Madeleine Hsu (6), Catherine Hubbard (6), Chase Kowalski (7), Jesse Lewis (6), Ana Marquez-Greene (6), James Mattioli (6), Grace McDonnell (7), Anne Marie Murphy (52), Emilie Parker (6), Jack Pinto (6), Noah Pozner (6), Caroline Previdi (6), Jessica Rekos (6), Avielle Richman (6), Lauren Rousseau (30), Allison Wyatt (6), Mary Sherlach (56), Victoria Soto (27) Benjamin Wheeler (6), Nancy J. Lanza (18+). Injured: Natalie Hammond (40), Deborah Pisani (18+) First shot Nancy J. Lanza nicknamed “Nancy Jean Champion” or “Beanie”, as her high school yearbook calls her, had a “charmed upbringing”. Nancy’s mom was a nurse and her father was a police officer. After marrying, she and her husband built a house next door to her childhood home. Nancy’s son (the shooter) stayed with Nancy after she had gone through divorce. It was after that she started to take on strange habits. She did not allow visitors into their home. She had collected a lot of powerful weapons. She also started taking her increasingly troubled son, to ‘multiple shooting ranges’, to practice shooting together. The guns that the shooter used in the onslaught are presumed to have been registered by Nancy herself. Shooter Statistics The shooter was 20, white male. He was in a special high school program designed for children who struggle with social interaction. He was completely untreated in the years before the shooting. In 2008, he had told a man that he was planning on killing children at an elementary school as well as his mother. Don’t Want to Be
Congressman’s Respone Senator Richard Blumenthal said ‘’As a parent and a public official, my heart and prayers are with these innocent victims, their families, and the entire community. I share the shock of all Connecticut at this hideous, horrific crime of inhuman violence. I will be in close communication with law enforcement and state and local officials to ensure they receive the federal support and resources they need.’’ He also said, ‘’As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I worked hard to get the Committee to approve the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, which would prohibit the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines’’.
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes said, “America is ready for common sense background check legislation, I owe it to my community, I owe it to my state, I owe it to the people of Newtown, Connecticut. And that’s why I look forward to casting my vote in support of H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112.’’
No comments from Senator Chris Murphy were found.
Florida’s 22nd Congressional District
5901 Pine Island Rd, Parkland, FL 33076 Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio Congressman Theodore Deutch February 14, 2018
The gun used was an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. It uses .223 bullets, and it immediately kills any and all tissue it hits due to the fast speed it has. This weapon is illegal in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Washington D.C., Virginia, and Washington. It is legal in Florida where this shooting happened. The Victims Dead: Alyssa Alhadeff (14), Martin Duque Anguiano (14), Nicholas Dworet (17), Jaime Guttenberg (14), Luke Hoyer (15), Cara Loughran (14), Gina Montalto (14), Joaquin Oliver (17), Alaina Petty (14), Meadow Pollack (18), Helena Ramsay (17), Alex Schachter (14), Carmen Schentrup (16), Peter Wang (15), Chris Hixon (49), Aaron Feis (37), Scott Beigel (45). Injured: Samantha Fuentes (18), Alexander Dworet (15), Madeleine Willford (17), Anthony Borges (15), Kyle Laman (15), Ashley Baez, Justin Colton, Marian Kabachenko, Kheshava Managapuram, Samantha Mayor, William Olson, Genesis Valentin and Benjamin Wikander. Injured: Madeleine Wilford (18), Benjamin Wikander (12-17), Samantha Grady (12-17), Anthony Borges (15), Kyle Laman (15), Daniela Menescal (17), Samantha Fuentes (18), Alexander Dworet (15), Isabel Chequer (12-17), Ashley Baez (12-17), Justin Colton (12-17), Marian Kabachenko (12-17), Kheshava Managapuram (12-17), Samantha Mayor (12-17), William Olson (12-17), Genesis Valentin (12-17), Stacey Lynn Lippel (50) First shot Martin Duque, Luke Hoyer, and Gina Montalto, all freshmen, were walking together in the hallways of the school’s first story before they were first shot by the perpetrator. Martin Duque was remembered by his family, especially by his older brother Miguel Duque, as a quiet but outgoing, sweet and fun kid. Luke Hoyer was the youngest of three and was described by family as a good kid who never got into any trouble. He enjoyed video games and chicken nuggets and loved basketball. Gina Montalto was said to be a strong, smart, loving girl who was a member of the winter guard in the school’s marching band and enjoyed expressing herself through her art. Shooter Statistics Don’t Want to Be
Senator Marco Rubio spoke after the shooting, saying “In this arena are thousands of people whose lives were changed forever, one week ago today, when a gunman opened fire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and killed 17 students and teachers. Four victims remain hospitalized. But since that horrible day, we have seen this community come together and we have seen an amazing and eloquent group of students with various opinions talk about what they feel needs to change.” He also spoke about supporting background checks and raising the age limit of purchasing a rifle. “It is wrenching to see so many young lives cut short in a place where students should feel safe as well as so many families torn apart and yet another community thrown into shock.” These were the words of Senator Rick Scott in response to the Parkland Shooting. Senator Scott has stressed that there have been warning signs. If these hints had received the proper attention necessary, some attacks could have been prevented. “Similar instances of pre-attack notifications received by the FBI regarding other high-profile perpetrators of heinous acts of violence in Florida — including the attacks at the Fort Lauderdale Airport, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and the Tallahassee yoga studio — paint a very concerning picture of an investigative agency that is repeatedly failing to identify and investigate threats.”
Representative Theodore Deutch said after the tragedy, “Today was a horrible day for Parkland, South Florida, and our nation. We are grateful for our first responders, local, state and federal law enforcement, and especially the teachers and staff who heroically fought to protect their students. We mourn the lives taken, and we will be here as a community for the families and for one another.” Theodore Deutch has also spoken concerning gun violence. He said, “After the gun violence tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida passed a law raising the minimum age for all firearms to 21. Congress should step in to set the same standard across the country. If we can reduce gun violence by raising the minimum age a person can buy a shotgun or rifle, then we should take this common-sense step.” He has also supported reintroducing the Assault Weapon Ban.
Colorado’s 1st Congressional District
6201 S Pierce St, Littleton, CO 80123
Senators Corey Gardner and Michael Bennet Congressman Diana DeGette April 20, 1999
The guns used were a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and a 10shot Hi-Point model 995 carbine rifle. On November 22, 1998, their friend Robyn Anderson purchased the carbine rifle and the two shotguns for the pair at the Tanner Gun Show, as they were too young to legally purchase the guns themselves. The Victims Rachel Scott (17), Daniel Rohrbough (15), Dave Sanders (47), Kyle Velasquez (16), Steven Curnow (14), Cassie Bernall (17), Isaiah Shoels (18), Matthew Kechter (16), Lauren Townsend (18), John Tomlin (17), Kelly Fleming (16), Daniel Mauser (15), Corey DePooter (17). Injured: Lance Kirklin (16). First shot Rachel Scott was the first person killed in the mass shooting. Rachel, a devoted Christian who was the subject and co-writer of several books, was bullied throughout her high school years for her faith. Richard Castaldo, another victim who was shot eight times and left permanently paralysed from his injuries, said the shooter returned when he realized she was still alive and asked “Do you still believe in God?” as he lifted her head by the hair. She answered; “You know I do.” The shooter then told her, “Then go be with him,” and shot her in the head. Her diaries have inspired many victims of bullying and the charity called Rachel’s Challenge is estimated to have reached out to two million students. Shooter Statistics The shooters were both 18-year-old American males. Before the mass shooting they posed in the school picture as if they were holding a gun. One shooter was described as a brooding psychopath, who showed in his journal writings narcissistic tendencies, unconstrained aggression, and a lack of empathy. The other, however, was concluded as an angry deppressed man.
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Senator Michael Bennet said, ”I think the president can make a difference. The House of Representatives has passed background checks to close the internet loophole. This person bought the guns lawfully as we know. Every single fact pattern will be different. We should pass those background checks. 90% of Americans support it.” He has voted to ban high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets.
Senator Cory Gardner said “Jaime and I are deeply saddened by the events that unfolded in Colorado Springs earlier today. This senseless act of violence is truly tragic and our hearts are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.The Colorado Springs Police Department, Colorado Springs Fire Department, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, State Patrol, and federal law enforcement agencies bravely responded to the initial call for help, and quickly worked to contain and stabilize the situation. Our first responders displayed tremendous bravery, and I am grateful for their service and ongoing sacrifice to keep our local community safe.”
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS Texas’s 28th Congressional District 216 4th St, Sutherland Springs, TX 78161
Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz Congressman Henry Cuellar November 5, 2017
The gun used was a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle. The Ruger uses .556 ammunition, and if its injuries are not fatal they are always severe. This weapon is legal in Maryland, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and in Texas, where this shooting occurred.
The Victims Dead: Robert Scott Marshall (56), Karen Sue Marshall (56), Keith Allen Braden (62), Tara E. McNulty (33), Annabelle Renae Pomeroy (14), Peggy Lynn Warden (56), Dennis Neil Johnson (77), Sara Johns Johnson (68), Lula Woicinski White (71), Joann Lookingbill Ward (30), Brooke Bryanne Ward (5), Robert Michael Corrigan (51), Shani Louise Corrigan (51), Therese Sagan Rodriguez ( 66), Ricardo Cardona Rodriguez (64), Haley Krueger (16), Emily Garcia (7), Emily Rose Hill (11), Gregory Lynn Hill (13), Megan Gail Hill (9), Marc Daniel Holcombe(36), Noah Holcombe (1), Karla Plain Holcombe (58), Crystal Marie Holcombe (pregnant) (36), Carlin Brite “Billy Bob” Holcombe (0). Injured: John Holcombe (60), Farida Brown (73), Ryland Ward (5), David Colbath (18+), Hailey McNulty (0-11), James McNulty (0-11), Rosa Solis (18+), Kris Workman (34), Joaquin Ramirez (18+), Debbie Braden (18+), Bob Braden (18+), Zachary Poston (18), Julie Workman (18+). First shot On November 5, 2017, the day of Sutherland Springs Church Shooting, Joe Holcombe lost children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Joe lost nine family members, including an unborn baby. Bryan Holcombe, Joe’s 60-year-old son, was walking up to lead the church in prayer when gunshots rang out. Bryan and his wife Karla, 58, were both killed. Bryan was an associate pastor, who was said to have a face that would always light up the room. His wife Karla was said to be very funny and joyous. Paul Buford, a pastor who knew the couple said, “You couldn’t ask for any sweeter people in the world.” When Joe Holcombe was asked about how he was coping with the loss of his son he replied by saying that he would see Bryan in heaven. “He’s gone home,” Joe Holcombe said, smiling. “We’ll be together again for a long time.” Bryan and Karla Holcombe were two good people. Unfortunately, they were “First Shot.” Shooter Statistics The perpetrator had a history of suffering from mental illness. He showed signs of violent and alarming behavior, such as escaping a mental facility, sexual assault, domestic violence, animal cruelty, and making death threats. Don’t Want to Be
Congressman Henry Cuellar said “It’s a small (inaudible) less than 400 individuals where people know each other, where people basically know, you know, that you don’t have anything like this happening. And therefore, when you have evil strike a small community of less than 400 individuals, it’s just very hard to fathom.” He has been loyal to gun rights activists and the NRA and has not planned to take action to help and support gun control laws and regulations. He has claimed to support universal background checks, however. Congressman Cuellar has said in the past that he does not believe in gun control; During a discussion after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, he stated, “I don’t believe in gun control. I think you can have responsible people do the right thing with a gun but unfortunately sometimes you get a situation like this that it’s hard to explain but just taking guns away from everybody is not going to solve the issue.” Senator Ted Cruz said after the shooting, “Sutherland Springs in Texas saw a truly horrific mass murder. I was in Sutherland Springs the day after the shooting. I stood in that sanctuary where over 450 bullets had been fired. “Pews overturned, shattered glass, pools of blood, as those who had come that Sunday morning to worship, hid in fear and terror while a deranged lunatic walked down the center aisle of a small country sanctuary and systemically executed every man, woman and child he saw with a rifle shot to the head. Shooting as young as 18 months old.” Ted Cruz has also commented on mass shootings and what should be done, saying, “We’ve seen too damn many of these in the state of Texas. So, we need to end them, absolutely, yes. Now, the question is what do we need to do that actually works? And this is where I get frustrated with Democratic politicians in Washington, because the proposals they’re putting forward would not have stopped a single one of these mass murders.” Senator John Cornyn spoke about the shooting, saying “Evil never triumphs. Just ask Mark Collins, Associate Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Unthinkable tragedy shook his church when a deranged shooter opened fire during a Sunday service and killed 26 parishioners on Nov. 5, 2017. But the next Sunday — Collins was witness to something remarkable: One week after the shooting, the congregation overflowed and smashed its 100-year attendance record. I joined that Sunday to lend a shoulder to the mourning and try to offer a little hope, but what happened was the reverse: They gave me more inspiration than I could ever have imagined.” He went on to say, “No family should ever have to go through this tragedy — much less an entire town — when it could and should have been prevented by laws already on the books. By fixing and reinforcing those laws, I hope we’ve ensured that no family ever will.”
Virginia’s 9th Congressional District
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA 24061-0002 Senators Mark Warner and Timothy Kaine Congressman Morgan Griffith April 16, 2007
The two guns used were a Walther P-22 pistol and a 9mm Glock 19 Pistol which is deadly depending on where the bullet enters the victim. This weapon is illegal in New York and California, but is legal in Virginia, where this shooting happened. The Victims Dead: Ross Alameddine (20), Christopher James Bishop (35), Brian Bluhm (25), Ryan Christopher Clark (22) , Austin Michelle Cloyd (18), Jocelyne Couture-Nowak (49), Kevin P. Granata (46), Matthew Gregory Gwaltney (24), Caitlin Millar Hammaren (19), Jeremy Michael Herbstritt (27), Rachael Elizabeth Hill (18), Emily Jane Hilscher (19), Jarrett Lee Lane (22), Matthew Joseph La Porte (20), Henry J. Lee (20), Liviu Librescu (76), G.V. Loganathan (51), Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan (34), Lauren Ashley McCain (20), Daniel Patrick O’Neil (22), Juan Ramon Ortiz-Ortiz (26), Minal Panchal (26), Daniel Perez Cueva (21), Erin Peterson (18), Mike Pohle (23), Julia Pryde (23), Mary Read (19), Reema Samaha (18), Waleed Shaalan (32), Leslie Sherman (20), Maxine Turner (22), Nicole White (20) First shot Emily J. Hilscher was a freshman attending Virginia Tech where she was studying for an animal and poultry sciences degree. She was in her dormitory located in a residence hall that housed up to 895 students when the perpetrator entered her room and fatally shot her. She was the first victim to be shot and to lose her life in this tragedy. Emily Hilscher was born in Woodville, Virginia and had a passion for cooking and animals, especially horses. She was described as a person that valued fairness above all, always wishing for others to be happy. Emily was studying at Virginia Tech with a plan to become a veterinarian once she graduated, and was a member of her school’s equestrian team. She will forever be remembered by friends and family for her passion, fairness and kindness. Shooter Statistics The shooter was a male from South Korea and was 23 years old at the time of the shooting. He had been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder with selective mutism, as well as depression, and had made suicidal statements. Before the mass shooting, he made violent writing for class assignments that had raised concern among his classmates and teachers. Don’t Want to Be
Senator Timothy Kaine decided to offer a new resolution in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech Shooting. This resolution includes the effort of keeping the victims’ names alive.“I just want to continue to bring them up and talk about them because I think they were really notable and what we lost that day was really incalculable”. Senator Kaine had also spoken about his stance on gun control and solutions he thinks will improve the system. “We need to have a universal background check system. That is the single thing we can do that will have the most impact on this.” In January of 2019, Senator Mark Warner sponsored two bills about protecting Virginians from gun violence. This is being done, according to warner.senate.gov, “through expanded background checks on gun sales and banning military-style assault weapons.” Senator Warner said the following, “We owe it to the victims and families affected by gun violence in communities across the Commonwealth and the nation to take a commonsense approach to prevent future tragedies. While these bills won’t stop every mass shooting, they include much-needed and widelysupported steps to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands and will save lives”. Congressman Morgan Griffith strongly supports U.S citizens right to bear arms. According to ontheissues.org, “He has consistently received A ratings from the National Rifle Association and he has been a leader in the House of Representatives in the fight to defend your rights against liberal gun-grabbers. He has led the effort to repeal many of the restrictions that Virginia imposed on law-abiding gun owners.” For example, he cosponsored the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act which states, according to a Congressional Summary, “Nothing in this Act shall prohibit the sale of a firearm or ammunition between licensed firearms dealers at any location in any state.”
TO SENATORS KAMILA HARRIS AND DIANNE FEINSTEIN Kamila Harris & Dianne Feinstein Senators of California 112 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 & 331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Harris and Feinstein, The purpose of this letter is to inform you and the other congressmen of California about the devastating mass shooting that occurred November 14,2017 in Rancho Tehama, California. In this letter, I am going to be discussing my thoughts after reading the victims statements after the shooting. I’m shocked that in a small, rural ELEMENTARY school where students are supposed to be “safe” had to go through this situation. If we put ourselves in any family position, you will want your child or your brother/sister to get dismissed safely. You wouldn’t want to hear that you can’t pick them up because they’re trapped in a classroom praying for their life. I believe that congressmen have the obligation to make a change that would stop this from occurring. There are different options to arrange gun laws. So I hope that after reading this letter you’ll think about making a change that would benefit everyone. Sincerely, Cecilia Accettura, 14 Future Voter
TO CONGRESSMAN SCOTT PETERS
Congressman Scott Peters Congressman of California’s 52nd District Rayburn House Office Building, 2338, Washington, DC 20515 Dear Congressman Peters, I am a student in Miami, Florida’s Everglades k-8 Center as part of the Speech and Debate club. I have learned about the Poway synagogue shooting that left one person dead back on April 27, 2019. Even though people might not think it was a terrible mass shooting, it is still unnecessary for someone’s life to be taken away at a place where people go to worship. I feel like it is only fair for them to be able to go back home without fearing a shooting or any criminal hurting them. Everyone has families that they wish to go back home to everyday. I read about your efforts in helping control gun violence at schools by voting for the “Stop School Violence Acts” as well as you supporting the Assault weapons ban. I believe that It is definitely a step towards the right path but it still won’t stop these mass shootings. Please make your voice be heard so that more people help support you in trying to stop this gun violence epidemic. Sincerely,
Mylee Fayas, 13 Future Voter
Don’t Want to Be
TO SENATORS LAMAR ALEXANDER AND MARSHALL BLACKBURN Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Alexander Senators of Tennessee
Dear Senators Blackburn and Alexander, I am devastated by the Burnette Chapel shooting. I don’t think that it is right for someone to be able to walk into people’s safe place and open fire. These people should be able to go back home to their families, to all their loved ones. Senator Blackburn, I heard that you got rated A by the NRA indicating that you are pro-gun rights and also voted on prohibiting the suing of gunmakers and sellers for the misuse of guns. I believe you should push towards more gun control rights to help those innocent people that lose their lives. As for you Alexander, I have seen that you support the idea that criminals, not firearms, cause crimes, as well as you want to reinforce current gun laws instead of adding new ones. You also voted YES on allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains. As a citizen, I also would not feel comfortable for anyone to be able to have a firearm on a train because they could possibly have intentions of harming people. Criminals might be the ones that actually use the gun to kill, but it is partly the fault of all the laws in play that are still allowing these people to access these weapons and to buy them without strong universal background checks.
Mylee Fayas, 13 Future Voter TO CONGRESSMAN JIM COOPER Jim Cooper Congressman of Tennesse’s 5th Congressional District 1536 Longworth HOB, Washington DC Dear Congressman Cooper, I have visited Nashville and seen the beauty that exists in your district. That has caused me to understand why so many people desire to visit such an extremely beautiful place. However, on September 24, 2017, the community was tragically hit with a mass shooting. The Burnette Chapel shooting was an event in which one person lost their life, and seven others were injured. Let us remember Melanie Crow Smith, the lone death, as a caring and sweet person, and a mother of two children. Due to the atrocities of one person, these two children will no longer have their mother for guidance or laughter, but only for memories. Since this senseless shooting, there have been countless more events with countless more victims. These victims are honorable and modest members of our society, so why do they have to be considered another statistic? Mr. Cooper, you stated that you were “horrified” by the killing, so now my classmates and I are calling on you to work with your congressional colleagues to pass common-sense and reasonable legislation. Work towards preserving that beautiful community that I remember. Sincerely,
Ethan A. Silvers, 14 Future Voter
Please remember, you have a voice in the office, let it be heard in helping to do the right thing. We need a change and we need to act before this keeps on occurring. Everyone should live a happy life without the fear of getting shot and killed wherever they go.
TO SENATORS TAMMY BALDWIN AND RON JOHNSON Senators Baldwin and Johnson Senators of Wisconsin 709 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington D.C 20510 328 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington D.C 20510
Dear Senators Baldwin and Johnson, My classmates and I are producing a magazine (“First Shot”) on the severity of mass shootings. The magazine includes research, poems, victim portraits and it highlights the lives of victims. In the magazine, The Sikh Temple is one of the mass shootings that we discuss. This shooting occurred in your state and it ended the lives of six people. Six people, peacefully practicing their religion,were brutally killed. It scares me that people’s lives are being taken away from them in places where they find comfort and security. I’d like to follow up on what you’ve been doing in response to the shooting. Senator Baldwin, you passed a resolution to remember the mass shooting. Thank you for your efforts in remembering the victims, and making sure they are never forgotten. Senator Johnson, I liked your words on the anniversary of Sikh temple. “The security of America and the safety of the American people is a top priority”. Please always remember to enforce your words. Thank you. Sincerely,
Barbara Montenegro, 14 Future Voter
TO CONGRESSMAN BRYAN STEIL To Congressman Bryan Steil Wisconsin Representative 1408 Longworth HOB Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Steil, On August 5, 2012, a 40-year old shot and killed six people and wounded four others. This shooting was at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. People were gathering in the Sikh temple for Sunday services. The gunman was watching them at 10:30 am as they gathered around each other during a time of prayer. When the shooting began there was noise and chaos. People began screaming, running and hiding. I believe that if someone goes into a place of worship and prayer, they should be able to leave alive and happy. These very peaceful Sikh worshipers were not able to walk out of their temple alive. Congressman Steil, you must do something to protect all these innocent people that deserve the right to worship freely and safely. Sincerely,
Andy Acosta, 12 Future Voter
Don’t Want to Be
TO SENATORS PAT TOOMEY AND BOB CASEY Pat Toomey & Bob Casey Senators of Pennsylvania 248 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Ethan A. Silvers, 14 Future Voter
TO CONGRESSMAN LLOYD SMUCKER
Lloyd Smucker Congressman of Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District 127 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Dear Representative Smucker, I’m proceeding to write this letter to you in order to address the mass shooting that took place on October 2, 2006. This happened in West Nickel Mines, an Amish school. There were five deaths and five others were injured. The target was female students that attended the Amish school. Mary Liz Miller was only seven years old and was shot and killed by the perpetrator. “Schools can do a lot to ensure safety”, you said this in a Lancaster Chamber event. Yet from 2006 to now there have been multiple shootings, specifically at schools. Schools, I think that we all agree, should be a safe place for all students.. I ask you to please make a change and try to stop these tragedies from happening. Sincerely,
Bianca Nieto, 13 Future Voter
Dear Senators Tommey and Casey, For Andrea Wedner and Rose Mallinger, 97, their Saturday was going on as planned. As a part of their weekly plan, the mother and daughter went to the “Tree of Life Synagogue” in your state. However, in the building in which the mother and daughter sought to further their relationship with God, Rose and 10 others lost their lives. On October 27th, 2018, an individual armed with several weapons and fueled by anti-semitism entered the synagogue. Andrea Wedner recalls telling her mother that she “loved her”. As the Senators from the beautiful State of Pennsylvania, do not allow for any further cowardly attacks to taint your state. Despite party differences, all Senators must work together to bring common sense legislation into action. After reading both of your websites, I am convinced that both of you can demonstrate to the country that bi-partisanship is necessary. Work with your colleagues to prevent another incredible person like 97 year old Rose Mallinger from losing her life, and to ensure no daughter has to utter the same words Andrea Wedner did.
TO SENATORS LINDSEY GRAHAM AND TIM SCOTT Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott Senators of South Carolina 290 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 and B40A Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senators Graham and Scott, As a student, I am concerned about all of the mass shootings that are occurring in our country. I feel that it is a very big problem that people feel unsafe in many places they go to. People should not have to worry that they will have their lives taken away by a shooter. For this reason, I think action regarding gun control and gun violence needs to be taken. For example, in the Charleston church shooting on June 17, 2015, 9 people were killed. Something must be done to prevent other innocent people from losing their lives. Senator Graham, you oppose expanding background checks, except for the mentally ill and Senator Scott, you oppose more gun restriction. I think to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands, background checks should become stricter. Senator Scott, you also say that we should not rush to judgement on gun control after school shootings, and that “We should take a very serious look at whatever it takes to keep our kids safe at school.” We really need you to help make a change and keep people safe from gun violence. Please help the voices of many students, such as me and my classmates, be heard! Sincerely, Isabella Villar, 12 Future Voter
TO CONGRESSMAN JOE CUNNINGHAM The Honorable Joe Cunningham U.S House of Representatives Washington D.C. 20510
Dear Congressman Cunningham, On June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, the Charleston Church suffered a mass shooting in which nine people were killed. Many people were in the church during the shooting. Fueled by white supremacy, the shooter targeted the participants of the bible study using a handgun. In America, an average of 30,000 people are killed due to gun violence each year, and 4 out of 10 guns are sold by unlicensed sellers with no background check conducted. This shows how easy it is to obtain a gun and how dangerous they can be. A reasonable line needs to be drawn to the Second Amendment, for the lives that were lost in the Charleston Church shooting, and to prevent such tragedies in the future. Congress can act upon this to prevent future victims in shootings like this.There have been laws passed in the past to protect our children, like raising the legal drinking age. There is no reason to not decrease the capacity to cause death or serious harm or damage caused by firearms. I ask what you are planning to do to prevent these disasters from happening in the future. Sincerely,
Amanda Rodriguez, 13 Future Voter
Don’t Want to Be
TO CONGRESSMAN MICHAEL DOYLE Michael Doyle Congressmen, PA, 18th District 306 Cannon HOB Washington, DC 20515 Dear Congressman Michael Doyle, Melvin Wax, 87, was one of the first people to arrive every Friday night and Saturday morning to practice his Jewish religion at The Tree of Life Synagogue.. On that Saturday morning, when the shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue occured, he was getting ready to complete his services for “New Light”. As the shooting happened, Melvin and three other congregants went to hide in a storage closet. To check if the coast was clear, Melvin opened the door and was shot dead.
Melvin felt so strongly about his religion that he practiced it every day. The place where he was shot was where he felt the safest, but I guess it wasn’t as safe as it should have been. What I’m trying to say here is that any person who goes into their place of worship, should be able to leave that place alive. You have a responsibility to keep these people safe and to protect them by introducing meaningful legislation.
Nicole Rodriguez, 12 Future Voter
TO CONGRESSMAN DOUG LAMALFA Doug LaMalfa Congressmen, CA, District 1 322 Cannon House Office Building, Washington DC Dear Representative LaMalfa, Several of your constituents were viciously taken away from this world from the hands of a crazed gunman. As their representative and their closest ally in government, you have a deeply important role in protecting and seeking justice in their name. We cannot allow for their names to be considered just another statistic. Following the tragic events, you posted on your Facebook page the following, “Pray for the ugly situation in Rancho Tehama”. I encourage you to continue working with members of your party and the opposite party, as well. I have no doubt this is possible for you because of the 203 bills you have cosponsored, over 40% of those bills were started by a member of the opposite party. Let us please not allow Diana Lee Steele, a loving grandmother, beforgotten between the many lives lost to mass shootings. Sincerely,
Ethan A. Silvers, 14 Future Voter
TO SENATORS RICHARD BLUMENTHAL AND CHRISTOPHER MURPHY Senators Richard Blumethal and Christopher Murphy of Connecticut Hart Senate Office Bldg. 706 Hart Senate Office Bldg, Washington, DC 20510 and 136 Hart Senate Office Bldg. Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senators Blumethal and Murphy, On December 14, 2012 in Newtown Connecticut, a 20 year old walked into an elementary school and brutally murdered six adults and 20 children that were between the ages of six and seven. That day, parents had to be told the devastating news that they had lost their son or daughter. As the world began to forget, these families continued to mourn helplessly. Father Jeremy Richman lost his sweet Avielle, who was only six years old. In 2019, he was found dead from an apparent suicide. These families never forget. Senators, we need you to not forget that this issue is reoccurring and doesn’t need to be. You both are responsible for the protection and prevention of these terrible and unnecessary tragedies. We need you to keep these powerful weapons out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have the power. Continue fighting for our right to life.
Raisa Carrillo, 14 Future Voter
TO CONGRESSMAN JAHANA HAYES Congresswoman Jahana Hayes Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District 1415 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congresswoman Hayes, It was on December 14, 2012, that 28 people died and two were injured. This is the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting. So many children lost their lives at such a fast pace they didn’t even have time to contemplate the fate that was in store for them. So far you have stated the following, “I am deeply opposed to arming teachers. How are teachers supposed to store these weapons? School is not a controlled environment because students are not predictable.” Although this may be true it can be managed and should be managed with great care. You said “We want safer schools’’ but very little has been done to create safer schools.. My classmates and I believe that if a mother drops her child off at school, she has the right to pick them up safely. If we work together, not individually, but as a community, much can be accomplished to help to eliminate these horrible events. Sincerely,
Milier Hernandez, 14 Future voter
Don’t Want to Be
TO SENATORS MARCO RUBIO AND RICK SCOTT Rick Scott & Marco Rubio Senators of Florida 716 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 & 284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Dear Senator Scott and Rubio, The purpose of this letter is to inform you and the other congressmen in Florida about the devastating event that occurred February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. In this letter, I am going to be discussing my personal thoughts and experience. That day at 3:15 pm I arrived home and turned on the television to watch the news. As soon as I started to watch, I felt that something was strange; I realized that 17 teenagers had been killed at a mass shooting in their HIGHSCHOOL. At that moment I had a mix of emotions. I was scared, sad, angry and disappointed. I was scared to go to school the next day because I felt that we as students weren’t safe to go to school. I was sad to see so many families lose their loved ones. I was angry and disappointed because I knew that government officials could have prevented that situation from happening. Now, you may be thinking, what can I do as a senator to stop this?. Well, you could start gun regulation such as age requirement, you can provide with a test of mental illness before giving citizens a license to own a gun. I hope that after reading this letter you take consideration to make a change. Sincerely, Cecilia Accettura, 14 Future Voter TO CONGRESSMAN TED DEUTCH
To Congressman Ted Deutch Congressman of Florida’s 9th Congressional District 2447 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Dear Congressman Deutch, You have been very involved with Parkland since the day it happened. You often go check up on the kids to see how they are doing. You once said, “Last time I was there a few weeks ago, we had a great discussion with a lot of the seniors about what they were going to do when they graduated and how they could continue to make a difference in their communities”. Taking time out of your day to check up and help everyone at Parkland is very inspiring, but it is not enough. We need change. You also stated that “ It’s just sometimes obviously it’s impossible to prevent something like this from happening”. And in fact, you are right, we can’t stop this recurring event, but we can make sure that people are aware of the tragedies and try to alter the Second Amendment without taking people’s rights to own guns away. What happened on February 14,2018 was a tragedy that will never be forgotten, and the effort you make to show up will be remembered by the kids and staff of the school. Please continue advocating for the victims and continue pushing for change to prevent these horrifying events. Sincerely, Gala Perez, 13 Future Voter
TO SENATORS MICHAEL BENNET AND COREY GARDNER
Senators Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner US Senators for Colorado 1244 Speer Blvd. Denver, CO 80294
Dear Senators Bennett and Gardiner, The reason I am writing to the two of you is because I would like to talk about my present concerns about the many recent mass shootings that have been occurring in our nation. There is one specific shooting that occurred on April 20, 1999 that left 12 students and one teacher dead, and injured 24 more. At that time this was considered, “The deadliest school shooting in United States history”. In 1996, one of the perpetrators had created a private website on America Online (AOL). At the beginning of 1997, the blog postings began to show the perpetrator’s anger towards society, and at the end of the year the site contained instructions on how to make explosives. There were multiple red flags before the incident had occurred, but all were ignored. We need your support in the Senate. We should not have to constantly live in fear wondering when and where the incident will happen. We all have a great responsibility to work on developing policies that could help monitor the issue of a gun permit. I trust you will devote time in Congress working on this matter to promote the safety of constituents, their families, and our nation.
Raphael A. Acosta, 14 Future Voter
TO CONGRESSWOMAN DIANA DEGETTE Congresswoman Diana Degette Congresswoman for Colorado’s 1st Congressional District 2111 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 Dear Diana Degette, On April 20, 1999, there was a shooting at Columbine High School. 13 people died in the same city that you’ve been representing since 1997. The lives lost ranged from 14 to 47 years of age. The majority of the victims were students waiting to begin the start of their future. In an article from April 2013 you stated the following: “They’re bullets, so the people who have those know they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.” This is not exactly true. Reducing gun violence is not about taking guns away from law abiding US citizens, it’s about having controlled gun laws and making sure that the people who do own guns are trained to use them correctly and in the right situation. Additionally these people must be mentally stable. I understand your point of view and the message you were trying to send out to the public, but your message was not quite clear. My peers and I believe that a person who goes to school should be able to return home safely. That a parent who drops their child off, should be able to see their face again, in person, not in a memorial service. Sincerely,
Fiorella Giordani, 13 Future Voter
Don’t Want to Be
TO SENATORS TED CRUZ AND JOHN CORNYN Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn Hart Senate Office Building, 517, Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senators Cruz and Cornyn, My name is Mylee and I am a student in Miami Florida’s Everglades K-8 Center. I have been researching the Sutherland Springs shooting that left 26 innocent people dead back on November 5, 2017. I was totally devastated when I heard this. As much as we seem to do it looks like nothing is working, so we need to think better, and harder. I am a strong believer in the idea of being able to go home to your loved ones without fear of anything happening to you wherever you are. This shooting happened at people’s safe place which is absolutely devastating.
Mylee Fayas, 13 Future Voter
TO CONGRESSMAN HENRY CUELLAR The Honorable Henry Cuellar U.S. House of Representatives Washington D.C. 20510 Dear Congressman Cuellar, There have been many mass shootings in America lately, and this has caused great suffering for many families. It breaks my heart to know that innocent kids like me are dying because people are suffering in life and don’t seem to be able to get help for their pain. A system needs to be designed to address the many mental health issues that are in America. On November 5, 2017, there was a shooting in Sutherland Springs Baptist Church where 26 people died, and the shooter continued to fire at the building itself. The weapon used was an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. People of varying ages were victims of this shooting. The perpetrator had a background of domestic violence and also escaped from a military mental health facility that was housing him. Too many Americans are killed by gun violence each day in America. Perhaps this shows how weak gun laws are, and how easy it is to obtain a firearm. Therefore, I believe there should be reasonable regulations to the Second Amendment and to gun laws, to protect the future of our country, and the elders that have shaped what it is now. Gun control is important to decrease the victims of shootings like these. I ask you what you will do about this? Sincerely,
Isabella Parada, 12 Future Voter
Senator Cruz, I know that you have been working towards getting guns taken away from violent criminals. I admire what you are doing and please keep on working towards it. Senator Cornyn, I have read that you have voted yes to not prohibit gun bans, and that you believe that we should focus on mental illness more than background checks. Please try and help us make a change, we don’t know how many people are capable of killing.
TO SENATORS TIM CANE AND MARK WARNER T Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia Russell Senate Office Building, 231, Washington, DC 20510 Hart Senate Office Building, 703, Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senators Kaine and Warner, On April 16, 2007 a terrible event took place at Virginia State University or Virginia Tech. It was not something new at the time but definitely nothing to be taken lightly. On that day 32 people lost their lives. The United States and surely you will not accept the continuation of such events. My name is Carlos U. Dieguez, and I’m in 7th grade at Everglades K-8 Center in Miami, Florida. I applaud your efforts at trying to eliminate gun violence. I applaud both of your interest in seeing weapons of war removed from our streets. We have a common interest and it is to stop gun violence in public places. In the future I want to remember all of the victims. We all should do the right thing as it relates to gun violence so that all students can return home to their parents each day. I really appreciate your
efforts at trying to prevent these terrible things from happening. I’m still heartbroken with all of the innocent lives that have been lost at Virginia Tech. Innocent people died for no good reason. There is no valid explanation for this to continue to occur. Please continue your support of sensible gun legislation.
Carlos Dieguez, 12 Future Voter
TO CONGRESSMAN MORGAN GRIFFITH
To Congressman Morgan Griffith Representative of Virginia’s 9th Congressional District 17 W Main St, Christiansburg, VA 24073 Dear Congressman Morgan Griffith, On April 16, 2007, a 23 year old man fatally shot 32 people, 5 faculty members and 27 students, at Virginia Tech. These were young people who had bright hopes and dreams for their own unique futures. These were people who were dedicating their lives to teaching and preparing these young people. It is unfathomable that this man, who had multiple past cases of mental health issues, was able to get his hands on a weapon capable of carrying out such a horrific plan. It is your job as a person in power to work for the best interest of the public. Your job allows you to create changes that can protect your people, and from the bottom of my heart, I fervently wish that you will take this letter into consideration and evaluate what can be done to prevent such tragedies from repeatedly occurring. Sincerely, Camila Di Catarina, 14 Future Voter
Don’t Want to Be
We believe that The United States Congress should pass Red Flag legislation to ensure that there is a legal means to remove deadly weapons from any individual who has expressed or demonstrated an interest in committing violence.
We believe that through the The 2nd Amendment of The United States Constitution all American have a right to bear arms. However, it should be amended to explicitly clarify which types of weapons civilians can and cannot own. We believe that there should be a Federal mandate for each public school to maintain a certain number of dedicated School Resource Officers and dedicated School Counselors based on current research findings.
THE FIRST SHOT TEAM
We are a group of 6th, 7th and 8th graders who have spent over 1500 hours researching, writing, drawing, digitizing, fact checking, designing, analyzing data, and contacting elected officials in an effort to positively impact our democracy.
We believe that The United States Congress should pass a Universal Background Check law that will prevent individuals who have committed certain crimes from possessing a deadly weapon.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP TEAM The leadership team is comprised of a highly intelligent and eclectic group of middle schoolers who are each individually gifted in their area of growing expertise. Each talented individual brought an intense and very specific set of skills to this project. Angelina Cotnam brought her acumen, her diversity of academic, intellectual, and practical skills, and her multi-tasking ability to bear on the creation of this magazine. The quality product that has been produced this year is directly correlated to the seen and the unseen hours that she has invested in this project. Her commitment to this amazing product has been unmatched. Ethan Silvers brought his gift of being meticulous and persistent in organizing a group of very different people. The success of The First Shot organization is attributable to his meticulous and persistent nature. His use of social media was instrumental in the dissemination of information to all of the members. Mia Magarinos quietly brought her unique gift of bringing people to life through her art. Her ability of understanding dept, perspective, ratio, proportions, and shading are second to none. Her artistic gifts brought life and color to the magazine. Jasmine Otero’s organizational and artistic abilities were instrumental in managing the art and the artists. Her communication skills and management abilities ensured that quality art was included in the 2020 edition of First Shot. Barbara Montenegro, who serves as one of the founding members, has consistently shown her intelligence and commitment to excellence in her research. Her ability to support any part of the research or the writing was essential to the success of this edition. Carlos Dieguez’s commitment to meticulous and excellent research and his stellar work ethic gave the research portion of the magazine a needed boost. It was because of Carlos’ consistent effort that the LATS portion of the magazine was completed a month before schedule. As a 7th grader Carlos is an active and instrumental member of the leadership team. Camila DiCatarina brought an endless amount of gifts and talents to the magazine. Her excellence in all aspects of the magazine made her entirely invaluable. Her intellectual and academic gifts are of the highest quality as evidenced in her seen and unseen contributions to the magazine. She single handedly created our webpage which is prepared to launch following the publication of the 2020 edition of the magazine. Raisa Carrillo’s contributions to this edition are multifold. She contributed in areas of research, writing and media. Her academic and intellectual gifts are of the highest quality as seen by her multiple contributions to the magazine. Her writing skills, as expressed in her masterful editorial, clearly reminds us of the enduring impact of mass shooting on survivors. Mia Romano invigorated the outreach team at a time when they were becoming fatigued. Mia’s masterful use of language, tone and prosody endeared her to those she communicated with over the phone. No elected official was out of reach to her when it came to proclaiming the the ideals and positions of The First Shot Organization; Mia even called The White House. Milier Hernandez, the co-leader of the outreach team, is a steady and reliable member of the First Shot team. Milier has never missed a meeting and his presence has provided a steadiness to the efforts of the group. His organization and communication skills has allowed him to be a very effective communicator for the organization.
Don’t Want to Be
BIBLIOGRAPHY - Parkland Research Sources: Govtrack, NBC News, Quartz News, TIME Magazine, WIRED Magazine, SunSentinel News, Insider Magazine, Herald News, Giffords Law Center, Ted Deutch Website. - Sutherland Springs Research Sources: CNN, NPR, New York Times, ABC, CNBC, Govtrack, LMTonline, The Texas Tribune, Ted Cruz Wedsite, OnTheIssues, John Cornyn Website, News4SA. - Sandy Hook Research Sources: CSGV, Richard Blumenthal Website, Jahana Hayes Website ,CNN10. - Pittsburgh Synagogue Research Sources: The Washington Post, The New York Times, Bob Casey Website, Pat Toomey Website. - Charleston Church Research Sources: USA Today, Politico, Black Past, Miami Herald. - West Nickel Mines Research Sources: Govtrack, Bob Casey Website, POLICE Magazine, OnTheIssues, PenLive Patriot News, Vote Smart, New York Times, Murderpedia, FindaGrave, ABC News, LNP Magazine. - Virginia Tech Research Sources: OnTheIssues, Washington Post, Govtrack, CNN, Roanoke Times, Collegiate Times, Wikipedia, Mark Warner Website, Biography Website, History Magazine, WeRemember Viginia Tech. - Columbine Research Sources: Metro News, Westword News, Local21 News, CBS, CNN, Congress. - Poway Church Research Sources: Fox5 San Diego, Politico, Times of Israel, City of Poway, Everytown for Gun Safety, Ballotpedia. - Sikh Temple Research Sources: Govtrack, CNN. - Burnette Chapel Research Sources: CNN, HouseGov, WKRN. - Rancho Tehama Research Sources: CBS, USA Today, WIRED, PBS, FOX, OnTheIssues.
CNN, The Post and Courier, Washington Post, The New York Times, CBS, Courthouse News,
SPECIAL THANKS TO To School Board Member Dr. Lawrence Feldman, Principal Ramon Garrigo, Assistant Principal Irene Gancedo, and Assistant Principal Teresa Cereijo: The students and I are eternally grateful that you have afforded us the opportunity to produce this important work. Additionally, no part of this effort could have been accomplished without your consistent help, advice and support. Thank you. Thank you to Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho for tweeting out his support for our project.
Special thanks to the following people for their financial support and for their belief that middle school students can indeed change the world. We are inspired and touched by your generous support. You have assisted us in making an impact on our future. K. and K. Fredgren
L. Kirschenbaum K. Cutler Sister S. Horace The Daughters of Charity (Province of St. Louise) C. Roche K. Harris J. Shearer K. Aaboe D. Pinkston Jr. M. Maurukas L. Bell Smart Vet Corp S. Ross E. Baldwin
Perla Tabares Hantman- Chairman Dr. Steve Gallon lll- Vice-Chairman Dr. Lawrence Feldman Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall Susie V. Castillo Dr. Martin S. Karp Lubby Navarro Dr. Marta Perez Mari Tere Rojas
Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Want to Be
The Education Fund (www.educationfund.org) proudly supports MiamiDade public schools’ students with the goal of maximizing every child’s potential and ensuring that each one graduates with every opportunity for success. The Education Fund’s Innovator Grants program provided the initial support for this project as part of an effort to help teacher Kelsey Major engage more students in the study of statistics by looking at a topic of concern to students. As a result of the initial grant-funded project, Mr. Major’s students achievement in his math classes soared. In fact, considerably more students in his classes were both interested in and qualified for the higher level math class for the subsequent year than ever before. As this project expanded, The Education Fund was pleased to be able to support the effort as part of our Student Power programming that is helping schools teach students about the opportunities and responsibilities of being U.S. citizens. Student Power encourages schools to teach U.S. Government studies by engaging students in hands-on learning. The purpose is for students to understand the different levels of government (local, state and federal) and the ways in which citizens can participate. We applaud Mr. Major and his school’s administration for responding to students’ interests and concerns, allowing students to research and explore difficult issues, and for engaging students in handson learning in order to accelerate significantly student learning.
THE EDUCATION FUND